What Driving Does to You

I wonder what driving is doing to my brain and my personality.

Have you ever thought about that?  There has to be some material effect of the fact that I spend 21 hours a week in my car.  Here’s a few contemplations for consideration:

  • Your car is always traveling forward in a “straight” line, rarely backwards.  There is no “give” or “flexibility” in a steel frame.  Does this make us feel like hamsters in a wheel?  Running and running and never actually moving?
  • We have to stay between the lines, but we enjoy crossing them.  Weaving through traffic is so fun!  But it’s dangerous—both to the body and to the wallet and legal record.  Does this make me feel like a criminal on the run all the time?  Wanting the security that conformity brings but feeling stifled and “unreformed” in my relationship to my surroundings—yearning to be “free”?

    structures, barriers, lines, cities

    structures, barriers, lines, cities

  • There is always threat of violence.  Some idiot could come out of Nowhere and kill you.  There are no guarantees on the road: we are driving towards each other: two parallel lines.  By definition they don’t ever intersect, but can you always draw a straight line, even on a piece of paper? Does this constant imminent danger increase our adrenaline?  Stress us out?  Change our view of people?  We always have to be on the offensive or the defensive.  There is nothing collaborative about driving—-even yielding is seen as a failure to bully your way through.
  • You can’t legally multi-task (or drive barefoot, by the way), but a commute is seen as a waste of time…so you feel compelled to eat in the car, make phone calls, check emails, listen to music, play stupid road games, read billboards, etc, etc, etc.  Therefore, are we in constant internal tension?  And—the more appropriate question—is that the tension that wears us out so that we are so tired that we fall asleep at the wheel, swerve, and otherwise wreak havoc in our multi-ton vehicles?
  • A car is a sacred space, the ultimate personal bubble.  It insulates us from the world around us—which is going by so fast that if we reached out to touch it, it would tear us apart.  How does that affect our willingness to connect with our fellow man?  For example: Pedestrians (humans) become an inconvenient interruption to our linear progression, a source of anxiety because of the threat of bodily (flesh or fiberglass) harm, and an Other who exists in a world we cannot touch.
just keep speeding, just keep speeding

just keep speeding, just keep speeding

Well.  Perhaps my 45 minute commute is getting to me.  Too much time to think.

But then again…is that all it’s doing to me?
  1. September 26th, 2011

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